The lab serves the entire Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) research group of the Department of Aerospace Engineering. The scope of the interdisciplinary research performed in the lab includes high-level control objectives such as cooperative team mission planning (task assignment) and multi-vehicle coordination, motion planning (guidance) with regard to optimizing trajectories for dynamical systems, trajectory-following, low-level control objectives focused on the control of single vehicles and/or platforms and also vision-aided single- and multi-vehicle autonomous navigation in uncertain environments. Additional research topics pursued in the lab are advanced flight displays, pilot-vehicle modelling, and active manipulators.
The lab operates an indoor test-bed emulating the complexities and constraints of real-world systems. Supporting hardware for this test-bed includes a motion capture system capable of providing real-time six degree-of-freedom estimates for tracked vehicles such as quadrotors and ground vehicles. This system architecture allows for the addition of vehicles in a short time at low cost since no embedded hardware is installed on the vehicles. This enables us to avoid being overly conservative during flight testing. A unique seven degree-of-freedom moving platform used to mount a variety of sensor payloads was also built in-house. The platform, which moves freely through one of the rooms, is suspended from the ceiling by six computer-controlled wires. The 7th degree-of-freedom is required to allow all-attitude yaw motions. Two high-precision three-degrees-of-freedom flight tables complement the equipment needed for evaluating inertial and electro-optical sensor performance. The lab also operates many ground and aerial robots.
The lab is also home to a joint Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Controls Teaching Laboratory, which operates six identical test benches containing a rotational (Furuta) pendulum driven by a DC-motor and supporting computer software and hardware. The lab setup, designed by the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is a flexible and modular apparatus that allows undergraduate and graduate students from both departments to explore various concepts related to dynamical systems and control theory.